Izzi Lynn

gospel, grief, and growing

two weeks ago
at the same conference
of future-bringers 
from all over the world
that i talked about in
gospel, 
a different girl
also stepped onto the stage. 
but she was there
to talk about anorexia. 

i had to hide my head
in my hands
because i couldn't bare
looking at her
while she spoke
with such courage. 
i was not brave 
enough to be able to watch
as she bared her soul to the crowd. 
(all i could think about
was caroline's hollow cheeks
and the tear streaks on them
when she told me she spent two weeks
in the hospital
trying to relearn how to eat). 
i listened as she spoke
about the same truth that haunts my nights, 
about how her mind was a goddamn calculator
and it was always calculating calories
and there was no
room 
for anything else. 
(all i could think about
was the calories 
in a grapefruit
and how the numbers start rolling
and they don't stop). 
i listened, but i could not watch. 
my god, 
i am not that strong, 
yet.
i am still recovering. 
(that's a laugh, 
i've been recovering 
since i was sick, 
i've been recovering
for years. 
i will probably always
be recovering). 
her words felt sharp
like growing pains
(the ocean roars in my ears
and i'm immersed in a memory
of being six years old, 
a conch shell pressed to my ear, 
the damp sand soft beneath my feet
and the cold blue pacific ocean
crashing against the shoreline
and throwing up salty spray. 
grey rocks silhouetted against a grey sky. 
the memory is monochrome, 
frozen in time. 
i was i were still that six year old
standing on her tiptoes on the beach, 
conch shell pressed to her ear). 
i am not always ready 
to admit i ever had a problem. 
but this girl, 
as uncomfortable as she made me feel, 
also made me feel
like i was ready to be unashamed
and embrace my recovery 
with arms wide open. 
(because oftentimes, 
i am ashamed by my weakness
and so i suffer
in silence). 
i listened though. 
i listened and i heard
and i felt brave enough 
to speak. 

yes, i know
i said i am not 
so strong. 
(that is still true,
i think because
i do not feel strong
at all). 
but this girl, 
my god, 
she made me feel
like i was for once
the dragon and not the princess. 
my god, 
she stepped onto the stage
and i wanted to cry, 
because this girl, 
she was more than just a girl. 
she was like the first candle you light
on a birthday cake
and you use it to light all of the others. 
my god, i felt
so much like a candle in that moment. 
like i was devouring and being devoured
and for once, 
for once, 
i felt strong. 

so i told her. 
i stood up at the end of her speech
and there were tears when i told her
how her words
had meant the entire world to me. 
and i asked, 
do you think it ever gets better?
do you think it ever gets easier? 

because recovery isn't easy. 
my god, 
the relapses are something terrifying
(count my ribs like a 
starved and beaten dog)
and the process
is something ugly and rather grotesque. 
and no, it is not fun
at all. 
and i was at the end of my rope, 
just wanting to know
if she saw a light at the end of the tunnel. 
because sometimes, i don't. 
but my god, 
this girl stepped onto the stage
and i saw the goddamn light. 
i saw fireflies and paper lanterns in the sky, 
i saw fireworks and the glow of a campfire on the beach, 
i saw flashlights and the light from my phone. 
i saw a future. 

one week ago
at a conference
of future-bringers
from all over the world, 
a girl stepped onto the stage
to talk about anorexia. 
and one week ago, 
i felt braver
than i ever have before. 
and one week ago, 
i felt like i was 
someone strong. 



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